Thursday, December 19, 2013

An out of control Advent...

The days are spinning busy and threaten to spin right on out of control this last week of Advent.
I started the month feeling so well organized, so on top of it all. 
Good grief, I even wrote a blog post on how-to to have a peaceful holiday!
Pride goes before a fall, you know.

Much like a move with all of the boxes neatly packed and labeled,
it's those last minute odds and ends strewn here and there all over that threaten to sink your boat.
I could feel the panic of the water seeping in around my ankles this week,
it seemed as though I had a thousand last minute odds and ends to get done.

I was the mama, the pastor's wife that could do it all when I was younger.
With our three little girls in tow I'd direct the church's children's musical with full staging and costumes, 
I'd have all the church leadership over to our home for a sit down dinner, 
I'd decorate and I'd bake.
I was either crazy or I was super woman.
I can't for the life of me figure out how I did it.

Now, if life gets too busy and full, I feel anxious and a bit panic-y.
Maybe it's because the older I get, the more contemplative I've become.
Sitting down to process things, to write, feels like a necessity.
A day without the margin to do so feels like too much.

To handle it all, I try to do the four things that keep me sane.

I take time for my daily quiet time with God.
I've been reading the Advent devotionals and scriptures with She Reads Truth,
the Advent readings in Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift,
and the devotional and scriptures in Jesus Calling.
When I read and pray I ask God for divine help for that day's to-do list.

Next, I actually write down that days to-dos.
Sometimes, in the writing, what seemed impossible to get done, actually looks manageable.
And there's nothing like the joy of crossing the items off, one by one.

Going on my daily run is also important to me.
The running not only burns off a few of the holiday calories,
it burns off some of the stress and anxiety too.
Worship music or even some snappy holiday tunes playing through my earphones helps too.

Lastly, I try to remember what is really important to me.
I spent hours this week hand writing Christmas Cards to our church family 
and to our personal friends and family.
As fewer and fewer people seem to be sending out cards,
I wonder if this is an expendable, 
yet as I sit and write to each person I can't help but feel that the love and prayer 
that goes into doing so is somehow important.

Then there's the annual cookie decorating and pretzel dipping that we do with the grandkids.
It's a wild and crazy and oh, so messy evening that requires mopping the floor and wiping down every household surface beneath the five foot level afterwards, but the memories are priceless.

We also took an evening this week to go look at Christmas lights with the grandkids.
Will the world end if my to-do list still has items undone while I'm looking at Christmas lights and sipping hot chocolate afterwards with my grand babies?
I don't think so.

Then there's the writing...
here I am with several things on my to-do list that must be done today and yet I'm here writing,
because somehow in putting what's going on in my mind and heart into words there is healing and joy and hope.
 And there's also a knowing that someone out there reading these words will say,
"I know just how you feel!" or "What you said encouraged me!" 
and somehow, for some reason,  that's important to me.

In six days Christmas will come whether or not I was perfectly prepared for our church's big Christmas celebration this Sunday,
whether or not all the Christmas goodies got baked,
whether or not I remembered to buy all the ingredients for the green bean casserole.
And in typing these words, I've encouraged myself.
Somehow,  those words make my busy-ness with things seem rather ridiculous
and what really matters comes back into focus.
It's all about Jesus.
JOY to your little part of the world and to mine.

still following,



  1. I like this phrase "Christmas will come whether or not I was perfectly prepared." As if anything we do or don't do can change God's gift of love. . .

    1. Constance, you are so right...Jesus, God's great gift of love, was born and I will celebrate, whether I feel all together or not!

  2. You touched my heart so deeply--hot, hot stinging tears and you know what did it?


    "And there's also a knowing that someone out there reading these words will say,
    "I know just how you feel!" or "What you said encouraged me!"
    and somehow, for some reason, that's important to me."

    I've let my blog go and it bothers me to let it go even though I don't really know (beyond a few) who is reading. And why is it so important to me to touch some lone, unknown soul maybe half a world away. But it is--I do understand exactly what you are saying.

    You got me, girl.

    And from one who has grandchildren from 1 to 23--enjoy them--time does not stop--it keeps marching on--and they grow up so quickly even more so than our children.

    Merry Christmas, Elizabeth. I love you dearly.

    1. Friend, don't you think that much of the writing is for ourselves, yet it touches others. I mean, if part of what God made you to do is to write or to paint, (like you do), then in the doing what God made you to do, it blesses others. I don't know if that makes sense to's a wee bit late for me to be very coherent.

  3. I am so glad you continue to blog and that I have found you here. I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

    1. Blessed Christmas to you too, Yolanda! I'm so glad you found my little place on the web!

  4. Elizabeth,

    Nice to be here with you through the IP link. Oh, the busy and the crazy, we are pushing back against too. In between the school and the errands, we are settling down to hot bagels tonight that my man just made.

    Merry Christmas. Your four stabilizing factors are nice. Writing with you,

    Jennifer Dougan

    1. Thanks for popping by, Jennifer! I'm afraid I haven't gotten around to reading some of the other's posts on IP this week. Now, tell me about that husband of yours who knows how to make homemade bagels!!!

  5. Yes, I am one of those people who needs your encouragement. Today I am absolutely worn out because I have been so busy the last week. I told my husband my mind doesn't know I am almost 65 but my body sure knows. I am just like you.....cannot do all the things I used to do when my kids were small. Now, there are grandkids. I have to ask myself, "Will they remember my house was immaculate or will they remember the fun we had together when they are here?"

    I agree with Constance, I like this phrase "Christmas will come whether or not I was perfectly prepared." As if anything we do or don't do can change God's gift of love. . .

    Thanks so much for taking the time to post today. I hope it helped you. It sure did help me.



    1. Oh, Debbi, you bless me so. Thanks for being my encourager!

  6. I am glad I came here tonight. I feel unprepared this year, but it's coming whether I'm ready or not. I'm enjoying these last days. (Nora is spending the night with us tonight. Squee!) Cookie baking tomorrow with the kids and grands. Nothing more important than this right now. Thanks for the encouragement.

  7. Christmas will come together. It will come, whether I think I am prepared or not. I am choosing (although not easy at all times) to focus on Jesus, His coming. And family, and the love of friends. Blessings!

    1. Choosing our focus is such a victory isn't it! That's part of the secret of keeping a gratitude list too.

  8. I have a sneaking suspicion that when you were younger and raising your daughters you felt the same stress and panic...time just makes us forget the horrors...kinda like labor! I so agree and really resonate with what you shared here. And lastly, it does make one feel so guilty when the advice or insight we share in our writing, we then don't live up to ourselves, often doing the exact opposite. It has made me what to give up blogging because I feel like such a fake. But I am trying to walk out in my mind that when we write, it is not about us or our experience, really. It is simply using a gift that God gave us to allow us to share what is true and good and lovely about Him. It becomes a blessing for us in the process because we also need it. So when I fall on my face and mess up, it does not make that message void, or mean I am a hypocrite. To me, I see the image of the crack, dented, slightly leaking clay pot, that is continuously filled with precious oil anyway.
    I hope these last days of Christmas are filled with His peace.
    Sorry if this is a double comment...I think my first comment was somehow "lost", but not sure!

    1. I think you may be right....I've probably developed a selective memory over the years! I loved and appreciated your comment and insights so much, Leah!

  9. This is a wonderful reminder! Thank you! You are always so encouraging thru being REAL!

  10. I am sitting here in the little of bit quiet this Christmas Eve morning. Catching up with you and your words here so reflect my heart. Christmas will come tomorrow and I'm not prepared - not the way it was planned. But it will happen. Without the decorations hoped for. Without the relaxing, beautiful day it was planned to be. But with my dear, little mother coming from the rehab center for a few hours to bask in the joy and love of our home. Together in the midst of an unexpected crisis for her. Together, centered around the love of God that sent His Son for us. And that's all that matters. The rest isn't important anymore. But the memories will be treasured in our hearts for years to come. Thank you for your open, honest words here even though I'm reading them a bit later than usual.


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